(From left) Gideon Buddenhagen and Amelia Fortgang
(From left) Gideon Buddenhagen and Amelia Fortgang

2 Bay Area teens among $36,000 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam award winners

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Two Bay Area residents are among 15 young people from across the country selected for the 2022 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, which recognize and reward teen leadership in social justice work.

Amelia Fortgang of San Francisco and Gideon Buddenhagen of Oakland will each receive $36,000 for their innovative projects.

Now in its 16th year and sponsored by the S.F.-based Helen Diller Family Foundation, the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards spotlight the efforts of dozens of Jewish teens for their work across the social justice spectrum.

“These extraordinary teens are fulfilling their own personal commitments to tikkun olam, as they also inspire so many others in their communities, creating ripples of good that will have lasting impact,” Phyllis Cook, philanthropic consultant for the Helen Diller Family Foundation, said in a press release.

Buddenhagen, 17, created Leadership in Motion, a computer coding initiative for middle and high school students of color that allows them to learn from each other through collaborative, engaging computer science lessons. He attends Oakland Technical High School and his family is affiliated with Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont.

Fortgang, 18, launched the Bay Area Youth Climate Summit, an activism network that offers in-depth educational environmental justice workshops. The network also mobilizes Bay Area high schoolers to respond to the climate crisis by creating and executing climate action plans in their communities. So far, the program has engaged some 3,000 students at 55 workshops. Fortgang recently graduated from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. Her family belongs to The Kitchen, an independent Jewish community in San Francisco.

Other issues addressed by awardees this year include support for veterans, refugees, and senior citizens, advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools, inspiring girls to be entrepreneurs and providing shoes to homeless people.

Hundreds of youth ages 13 to 19 from across the country, who self-identify as Jewish, either applied for the 2022 awards or were nominated by teachers, rabbis or mentors. Applications for the 2023 awards will be accepted starting in September of this year.